Went early to check out the ruins of Palenque – very impressive, definitely some similarities with Tikal in Guatemala. A whole hidden city buried in the jungle. After checking out all the main areas I was crossing into some of the deeper jungle and noticed some monkeys in the trees above. Naturally I stopped to take some pictures even though every picture we’ve ever taken of a monkey in a tree comes out looking vaguely like a distant bird nest, or maybe a wild black pillow. Either way, myself and this Japanese guy were the only ones in the area, both taking pictures, when a group of monkeys started bouncing from branch to branch, which is always nice since it gives you a reason to move your eyes, breaking the monotony of simply staring at one tree. Then all of a sudden a branch snaps and this monkey starts falling, but he catches himself on another branch about 10 feet down, but then that one snaps, too, he catches another branch, but no luck there either, and finally, thud, the poor bugger just hits the ground!
He must have fallen 60 or 70 feet. Then all the branches he broke on the way down crashed on top of him, which I’m sure made his day just that much brighter yet. After a few seconds he started moving and slowly crawled into the underbrush.The Japanese guy and I just kind of looked at each other, stunned, and I said “Well, that was odd”. He seemed to agree. As I left I saw the monkey had made it up a tree, but not very far, and was just kind of curled up on this branch. Hopefully he ended up all right but who knows? Seriously, though, what are the odds of a monkey falling out of a tree, let alone being there to see it? Nuts.
Wednesday night was the first night of Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year. It was kind of a downer to be away from home for it but luckily there happened to be couple Israelis traveling in Mexico which made it easier. I had been sort of traveling together with an Israeli couple, Roee and Noa, since leaving Oaxaca (along with Pieter and Michelle, from Belgium and Ireland respectively). In Palenque Roee put up some signs and got the restaurant to pick up the necessary foods, etc. Well, lo and behold, it turns out that of the 100 or so people in El Panchan at that time, who all came to Don Mucho’s every night to eat, drink and listen to live music (cool place), approximately 45 of them were Israeli. Now, I had noticed a lot of Israelis around all through the trip, or at least those I thought were Israeli (it has actually gotten to the point where I can usally recognize Hebrew now, just not speak, write or understand it), but I had no idea there were this many.
I mean, the whole country of Israel only has 7 million people for god’s sake (I mean for mary’s sake, or am I supposed to say for chrissakes? Not sure.) Anyway, I was invited to join in the celebration (maybe a token gentile was needed to complete the circle or something) and it was pretty interesting. I ate apples with honey to signify the start of a “sweet year”, was told how they usually have fish heads to represent “the front not the back” and then I asked what the soup was they were passing and what it signified. I was informed that it was part of Armen’s meal and they were just seeing if it was good enough to order.
Anyway, apparently the Israeli summer holidays run from August to October which somewhat explains why so many are in Mexico right now but still, compare that to the fact I did not meet another Canadian or American the entire trip. In fact, on the plane home the flight attendant kind of shocked me when he talked and I realized that was the first Cdn/US accented English I had heard in 2 weeks.
Made it back to Mexico City Friday afternoon (September 14th) and, my goodness, what a zoo. September 15th is a national holiday equivalent to our July 1st and the zocalo in the capital is clearly the epicentre of all things patriotic in Mexico.
I had toyed with the idea of backing my flight up a day to be around on the 15th itself but opted against it considering that it was already crazy with celebrations the first time around (the 1st to the 4th) and I’m glad I did since the 14th was almost more than I could handle. For at least 4 blocks in every direction from the zocalo the streets were blocked off and the people were shoulder to shoulder making it difficult just to get around. Another 24 hours and I likely would have ended up crouched in some urine-soaked corner, yelling senseless profanties at passersby while I chewed on my shirt and wondered why my eye wouldn’t stop twitching. Kind of like after 8 hours on Air Canada. Ba dum bump.
Back to work tomorrow – see ya’ll later. I’ll start adding some pictures this week, too.